While I was in Florida for the recent AICI Conference I was lucky enough to connect with the completely fabulous Sue Donnelly, author of Heading South, Feel Fab at 50, The 80/20 Makeover and Does My Belly Look Big in This? and I asked her straight away if she’d do a guest post. Sue runs an image consulting business based in Peterborough UK called Accentuate, plus has a blog Feel Fab at 50. The photos here of Sue were all taken be me on my iphone camera at the AICI Conference so I apologise for the quality.
How would you describe your personal style?
Great style is knowing what suits you – the physical body and the ‘inner’ you – and giving it your own unique ‘twist’ so that it’s not only authentic but very different. If I boiled my style down to two words, they would be Comfortable and Creative. By doing this, it becomes so much easier to get it right whatever the occasion, whatever the trends.
How do you balance new trends with a more timeless look?
I always love new trends and get bored very easily so fashion and being current will always play a huge role in my wardrobe. The secret is to only buy into the trends you love and then adapt them for your body and your age group. If you are older, this usually means that wearing a trend from top to toe won’t work. So mix and match with staple, well loved items in your wardrobe to get a unique’ take’.
What is your current obsession?
I used to be known as the shoe lady, then the bag lady but now it’s the scarf lady. I have hundreds and I love them all. A scarf can radically change the feel of any outfit and I rarely travel without one in my bag. It also helps that I am always cold so it’s not just a fashion item but a practical one. Wearing statement specs means that bold or dramatic jewellery is a no-no. A scarf acts as my jewellery so is a huge accessory for me and my individual look, which I can wear all year round. They are also usually cheaper than bags and shoes, so I can afford to buy lots!
Who are your style icons?
In style terms, it’s probably someone that doesn’t crop up a lot in this context but I love her essential quirkiness (as well as her massive talent) and the fact that she really does her own thing and looks amazing. Who? Helena Bonham Carter. She is so British and slightly eccentric like that other UK icon, Dame Vivienne Westwood. Someone who’s clothes I adore. It takes lots of guts to be yourself in this celebrity studded world and Helena has remained constantly her own woman, who really knows who she is and how to dress herself.
I also love Lulu (a British 60 something singer) who looks so much younger than her actual age, who dresses in a fun but stylish way. Dame Helen Mirren, for always looking fabulous but not making her clothing the top of her priorities. Joanna Lumley, a 60 something actress who also looks timeless and so comfortable in her skin. Annie Lennox – never, ever looks any older and has really owned her androgynous style over the decades. My US icon is Sharon Stone, born the same year as me- if only I could look that fabulous(!)
What’s the best piece of style wisdom you’ve ever received?
Be Yourself. Sounds simple but for many years, even as an image consultant, I dressed inadvertently for others. I was worried about ‘scaring’ clients, wearing the ‘wrong’ colours, getting disparaging looks from my teachers for not following their rules. I’ve realised that I know the ‘rules’ so it is absolutely OK to break them. I have so much knowledge about what does and doesn’t suit me so my desire to dress the way I do is not by accident but by design. I am a bit of a rebel clothes-wise, so I now feel so much more freedom in the way I choose to dress. This has meant more joy, and actually, more clients as they feel inspired by me not frightened!